Tuesday, March 27, 2012

“Pink Slime” Beef Destined for National School Lunch Program

Original by Sarah B. Weir, Yahoo! blogger
By Sarah B. Weir, Yahoo! blogger 

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"According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), "packages of ground or chopped meat and poultry, such as hamburger or ground turkey, will now feature nutrition facts panels on their labels. Additionally, 40 of the most popular whole, raw cuts of meat and poultry, such as chicken breast or steak, will also have nutritional information either on the package labels or on display to consumers at the store." 
Mar 12, 2012

Click here to view the original article on yahoo.com

McDonald's and Taco Bell have banned it, but now the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is picking up 7 million pounds of beef containing ammonium hydroxide-treated ground connective tissue and meat scraps and serving it up to America's school kids. If you thought cafeteria food was gross before...
According to TheDaily.com, the term "pink slime" was coined by microbiologist Gerald Zirnstein, formerly of the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service. He first saw it being mixed into burger meat when he was touring a Beef Products Inc (BPI) facility in 2002 after an outbreak of salmonella. "Scientists in D.C. were pressured to approve this stuff with minimal safety approval," Zirnstein told The Daily.
"Pink slime," which is officially called "Lean Beef Trimmings," is banned for human consumption in the United Kingdom. It is commonly used in dog and chicken food. Celebrity chef and safe food advocate Jamie Oliver featured the substance and called for its ban on the April 12, 2011 episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, which may have influenced McDonald's to stop using beef patties containing the filler.
Reportedly, Zirnstein and his colleague Carl Custer studied the substance and classified it as a "high risk product." Custer, who worked at the Food Safety Inspection service for 35 years, says, "We looked at the product and we objected to it because it used connective tissues instead of muscle. It was simply not nutritionally equivalent [to ground beef]. My main objection was that it was not meat."

Another issue is the ammonium hydroxide, a chemical that is used to kill pathogens such as E. coli. The FDA considers it safe for human consumption but a 2009 expose by the New York Times questioned its safety and efficacy. Some food advocates are asking for meat containing "pink slime" to be labeled. It's used in about 70% of ground beef in the US. "We don't know which districts are receiving what meat, and this meat isn't labeled to show pink slime. They don't have to under federal law," Bettina Siegal, a writer and mother of two who created TheLunchTray.com told NBC. Siegel has starteda petition to demand the USDA stop using the product in the National School Lunch Program. 

(Reuters) - The Department of Agriculture is defending the use of ammonium-treated beef, dubbed "pink slime" by detractors, in meals destined for schoolchildren as part of the national school lunch program. 

The Internet news source The Daily reported this week that 7 million pounds (3.2 million kg) of the product -- beef trimmings treated partly with ammonium hydroxide to fight contamination -- would appear in school lunches this spring.

"All USDA ground beef purchases must meet the highest standards for food safety," the agency said in a statement.

"USDA has strengthened ground beef food safety standards in recent years and only allows products into commerce that we have confidence are safe."

Fast-food chain McDonald's stopped putting the USDA-approved ammonium-treated meat into its hamburgers in August after a number of food activists, including celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, drew attention to the additive.

The USDA, schools and school districts plan to buy the treated meat, categorized as "lean fine textured beef," from South Dakota's Beef Products Inc for the national school lunch program.

The BPI product makes up about 6.5 percent of the 112 million pounds (51 million kg) of ground beef that has been contracted for the National School Lunch Program, the USDA said.

The department oversees the program, which buys about 20 percent of products served in U.S. schools. The rest is bought directly by schools or school districts.

(Reporting By Ian Simpson; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Cooney)

Flawed Red Meat Study: You Are What Your Food Ate

by  on MARCH 21, 2012 

Are beef eaters doomed to an early death? 
By Alliance for Natural Health / March 20, 2012
A recent Harvard study, accompanied by some unduly alarmist articles in the press, found that the consumption of red meat is associated with higher mortality rates from cardiovascular disease and cancer. The study recommends substituting “healthy” protein sources such as fish, poultry, nuts, and legumes to reduce mortality.
We see a number of big problems with this study.
First, the study was conducted over a very long period of time (28 years for women, 22 years for men) by sending out food questionnaires every four years. Self-reporting, much less every four years, is not a reliable method of data gathering.
Second, and even more importantly, the study did not differentiate between organic, grass-fed beef, and non-organic, CAFO-raised beef. As Dr. Joseph Mercola points out, the nutritive value of the each is very different!
Because of the conditions and the grain-based feed used in factory farms, conventional beef may contain over twenty times the amount of omega-6 fatty acids (associated with arthritis, chronic inflammation, and cancer) than healthful omega-3 fatty acids (which help blood circulation, reduce inflammation, and strengthen the heart). By contrast, grass-fed beef typically has nearly seven times more omega-3s than omega-6s.
In fact, eating moderate amounts of grass-fed beef for even four weeks will give you healthier levels of essential fats, according to a 2011 study in the British Journal of Nutrition. Healthy volunteers who ate grass-fed meat increased their blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids and decreased their level of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.
Grass-fed beef is far healthier than grain-fed beef for a number of reasons. For example, it has four times the amount of complete complex vitamin E than grain-fed beef. Complete complex vitamin E deficiencies have been linked with diabetes, immune disorders, Parkinson’s disease, eye diseases, and lung and liver diseases, so eating grass-fed beef would help prevent that deficiency. And this is just one factor among many. Grass-fed beef is lower in total fat, higher in beta-carotene, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, and higher in CLA, a potential cancer fighter.
To make no distinction between grass-fed and grain-fed beef in the study is just absurd. But it is not unusual. Indeed, the whole thrust of USDA policy is to treat all farm commodities as identical and to deny any differences. Not surprisingly, this also reflects the views and wishes of major food producers who do not want competition from differentiated products and who look to government to outlaw claims of differences or even outlaw pricing differences.
When we write about “grain-fed beef,” please understand that this is shorthand. One of the feedlot practices involves feeding cattle grain that has been laced with chicken litter, cattle blood, and restaurant leftovers—to boost the nutritive content. In the UK and Canada, the feed may be laced with meat and bone meal, blood meal, and meat scraps, and this proved to be the vector for mad cow disease: it comes from eating brain and other nerve tissues of already-infected animals.
So far as we know, mad cow disease is not yet a widespread problem in US, but we wouldn’t count on the USDA to find it. And the disease is propagated through the very same feed practices that our CAFOs currently use. As John Stauber, co-author of Mad Cow USA, notes, “The entire US policy is designed to protect the livestock industry’s access to slaughterhouse waste as cheap feed.”
In short, if you eat meat, you’re not what you eat—you are what your food ate!
A third problem with the study is the authors’ simple recommendation to “eat more fish and chicken.” In fact, a lot of seafood is contaminated with mercury, as well as carcinogenic PCBs. So eating too much fish can be hazardous to your health as well.
Chickens in factory farms are also fed slaughterhouse waste. This is one of the factors believed to account for the high salmonella rate: 28.8% of eggs from chickens in factory farms have salmonella, whereas cage-free chickens’ eggs have only a 4.3% salmonella rate. The latter are also higher in vitamins and lower in cholesterol.
The conventional food supply is dominated by animals raised in unhealthy conditions, and the government is creating a system that supports factory farms. You may have read about the “lean, finely textured beef”—bovine connective tissue and beef scraps, finely ground and washed in ammonium hydroxide and formed into a paste known as “pink slime” which has been used as a low-cost filler for ground beef— that is reportedly on its way out at McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Burger King. But according to Mother Jones, the USDA plans to keep ordering pink slime for use in its National School Lunch Program, which serves low-income students.
If ammonium hydroxide, a chemical also found in household cleaners, is unfit for the fast food industry, how is it safe for our school children? Fifty years ago, the USDA was an agency doing its best to make things better. How did it go so wrong?
Many human populations following a natural diet—particularly hunter–gatherers—have led remarkably healthy lives feeding predominately on red meat. For example, Native Americans amazed explorers and colonists with their remarkable health even though their diet consisted mainly of animal meat, organs, and fatty parts. But that was organic, free-range, grass-fed meat, not factory farm beef.
The Harvard “red meat” study was not only fatally flawed from the outset, it offered reckless (and scientifically unsound) advice.

The best organic food is what's grown closest to you. Use our website to find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies. Want to support this great web site? Shop in our catalog for things you can't find locally!

According to The Daily, these are among the stores that say they do not sell meat with pink slime:
  • A&P
  • Whole Foods
  • Costco
  • Publix
  • H-E-B
  • Waldbaum’s
  • Price Chopper
These are among the stores that do not sell pink slime in store-ground meat, but sell pre-packaged ground beef from suppliers that may contain pink slime:
  • Jewel-Osco
  • Kroger
  • Food Lion
  • Winco
  • Fred Meyer
These are among the stores that sell store-ground meat with pink slime, according to The Daily:
  • Target
  • BJ’s
  • Hy-Vee
  • Safeway
  • Walmart
  • Albertsons
  • Stop & Shop
  • Zaycon Foods
Please be sure to check out the highlighted links and use Jaimie's toolkit at his website!  The children are the future and they deserve to be healthy and happy.